Before I officially settled in Tulsa, my sister friend Katie toured me around her favorite places. Places I hope to tour you around via the blog or if you ever come visit. One of the first on her list was a vintage furniture store called Retro Den and we were heading there for a succulent planting event. Not a lover of furniture, vintage or plants I was far from convinced this would be great, but open minded anyway.
Flash forward 2.5 years later and one of my big resolutions is keeping a pot of their succulents alive and I’ve hired these girls to style my living room. Obviously I was so wrong about how I would feel about my experience in the store, and actually ended up planting several succulents alongside A. Daly that very day, and putting a sale hold on a gorgeous industrial cart that just screamed at me. Good work Katie Carp.
Those succulents have since died (not their fault, mine.) but that cart table is now the center of this styling session for my living room. Fast friendships grew out of the Ashleys too, as they’re both so personable, warm and funny and I spent a lot of my early down time days hanging around their shop or bringing them food in exchange for little shop gifts.
As much as I’d like to do a full makeover and update to my house, I think it’s more realistic financially to just update the actual furniture. My whole time in Tulsa I’ve been working with a strange mix of pieces I acquired in Memphis or Austin or from my parents’ attic/basement. I had all the pieces that I needed but it looked like a patchwork quilt of furniture, and a cluttered one at that.
I had a little bit of money saved up, and I started selling pieces off. (The LetGo app and Facebook groups are a great place for this). Soon I’d sold off all my living room furniture except my precious cart table and that brought about a proper theme for this Christmas (last year’s snow ski, this year furniture). I asked for a couch, and that was it. Santa generously pulled through with some couch cash and a suggestion to get a designer to go with it. The Ashleys!
Before we even started our session, the As began gathering intel. There were forms to fill out, Pinterest boards to make, screenshots to share. This was surprising to me but shouldn’t have been. I do the same thing to people when they start working out with me. Why are you doing this? What do you want to accomplish? What are you willing to do? Not do? What’s your budget?
In my own attempt at designing my living room, I wanted it to center around travel and books. I don’t have a television so wanted art on the walls to inspire chatter about places I’ve been or places to go. Books on the shelves could be topics of chatter too. The cart needed to stay. I love the bookcases and the length of the room. The mantle is overwhelming. I want a gallery wall and a cozy country feel. I want the room to feel open, calming, warm, inviting and friendly. I want a tufted or nailhead trimmed sofa and cozy reading chairs, maybe a reading nook. And a gallery wall. My budget is about the price of the sofas I’m looking at.
We scheduled the consult for a Thursday morning at 9am. Normally this is late in the day for me, but I was feeling under the weather and barely out of bed when they arrived offering coffee, bright yellow tulips and friendly chit chat.
First, we took a tour of my house. In their styling sessions, the As will use pieces you already have in your home (especially if your budget is as small as mine) to “shop your space” and I knew they were probably looking around for those things. But I was also beaming with excitement as they complimented other parts about my home. I loved this house when I first toured it, and still do, but there’s something about being reminded why you fell in love with something in the first place, especially after it’s flaws start to come through (cabinet doors that don’t shut, painted shut windows, loosey goose doorknobs, shower knobs that don’t let the bath faucet on). It’s important to say that these were genuine compliments; I don’t feel like they were fluffing me up to love them more.
The tile in my kitchen, the modern and old mix of furniture in my bedroom, the light from my windows, my quirky little bathroom sink. They brought so much appreciation for my own home back to me, and I’m going to hold onto that forever.
Then it was down to business. The living room. The mantle. Without hesitation, the first thing to go was the Christmas decor. Since it is mid-January, I reluctantly complied. They both agreed, based on the photos I submitted, that my big map could stay (yay!) but needed to just rest on the mantle instead of hang. They cleared off the rest of it while I just stood back and watched. Then we went hunting for things again, this time to the garage. They spotted a metal basket and two old milk jugs from my parents’ basement that I loved when I saw them down there and had carted around through three living spaces. My favorite part of the day (after the house loving of course) was watching them carefully wash and prepare these vintage jugs for use in my current living room.
They brought them in and toodled around with the perfect placement. I’m still just standing back watching, amazed at what’s happening before me. They worked so well in sync together, checking in with me and my vision, but also just knowing my vision well enough to decide things together.
Besides being under the weather I think they could tell I was overwhelmed and were so kind in listening to my mini-panic about clearing off the mantle. Last fall I’d spent a little over $100 on lanterns and candlesticks and big books to try to fill it out, and they just took them off. It’s frustrating to feel like you tried on your own, and couldn’t find the look you wanted, but then such a relief to finally get the mantle under control (this is why you hire the As!).
Too soon our styling session was over and the cheery girls left me to bask in my delightfully arranged living room (still just with a cart in it but simplified), but not without homework. I had five main tasks for the next month before we come tighter again.
- Buy a couch
- Paint the fireplace white
- Get a snake plant and some philodendron
- Only buy white things, and no more new pieces
- Look for a jute rug
I was a little nervous about being left to these devices on my own but the girls were supportive in answering questions I had (what kind of paint? where do I buy those plants?) and even pinned examples of it all to our shared Pinterest board.
The couch is ordered, the fireplace is painted and the plants are happy in their new home! I can’t wait to share an updated post with you once the couch is in its place, but this one was meant more to focus on these delightful girls and their very-worth-it service. If you’d like to read more about this service, check out this link. At the very least, even if you’re not into furniture, vintage or plants, swing by their shop near 12 and Harvard to say hi. You won’t be sorry.